Scuffs vs Scratches on a Car: Types and How To Repair Them

Differentiating scuffs vs scratches on a car is quite difficult, and there is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to figuring out how to remove it from a vehicle’s paintwork. But learning the difference between them and how to get rid of them is important.

Scuff vs Scratch Car

Next time you see scuffs or scratches on your vehicle, you don’t have to panic. Simply read our complete guide below to know more about scuffs and scratches on your car and how you can easily get rid of them.

Features Scuffs on a Car Scratches on a Car
Location Above the coat Below the coat
Depth Superficial Deep
Types None Clear coat, primer, paint 
Fixing process DIY Complicated
Requires a professional No Yes


What Is the Difference Between Scuffs and Scratches on a Car?

The main difference between scuffs and scratches on a car is how deep the mark is, as scuffs are marks on the car’s surface rubbed off another source, while scratches are deep and go below the paint coat of your car.

Scratches are deep and can be caused when your car roughly brushes against another surface like a tree branch, the garage wall, or even just a car climbing your hood and scratching it unintentionally. But scuffs are more like paint transfer from another surface to your car, and they are superficial.

Many types of scratches and scuffs can be removed with a DIY car repair method, but for deeper scratches, you might need to visit your mechanic. Keep on reading our guide to know how to make your precious vehicle look as good as new after a scuff or a scratch.

How Does a Car Get Scuffed?

A car gets scuffed when it bumps against a surface and the paint transfers to the car. For instance, backing out of your garage and bumping into it lightly can leave a mark on your car. It can happen with rubber or plastic and is simply a superficial mark.

– Getting Rid of Scuffs on a Car

It’s simple to learn how to get rid of scuffs on a car since these are superficial marks. Scuffs are markings on the car’s surface that have rubbed from another surface, like rust from a trash can paint from another car, the garage door and more. All of these can scrape off from one item and land on your car’s paint job.

Scuffs are very easy to get rid of compared to scratches since they are superficial marks. All you have to achieve is removing the foreign paint or material on the car and returning it to its original color.

Follow the steps below to remove scuffs from your car.

  1. Take a microfiber towel and use it to wipe the area where the scuff is with a car cleaner. It’s best to clean the surface first because leaving dirt around the scuff can cause a worse scratch. This is also used to remove water spots.
  2.  If you brush your car against plastic, rubber, or paint, you could get rid of the scuff with a mild adhesive remover. The adhesive will wipe the scuff away immediately without leaving any damage on your car. It is the most cost-effective option.
  3. If you brush your car against something more damaging, like the garage door, you need something stronger to get rid of the scuffs. Try out a rubbing or solvent compound, which is usually sold at auto body shops. You can keep the polishing compound with you for future purposes.
  4. Once the scuff has been removed, reapply a sealant or wax for extra protection. This would make it harder for a scuff to form on your car again.

Key Features of Scuffs

When you buy a product for your cars, like adhesive remover or solvent, you should follow the specific directions on the product. You should also have clean microfiber rags with you to fully clean the spot. Scuffs are always taken care of by DIYers.

– Removing Scuffs With Toothpaste

You can remove scuffs with toothpaste because it is a mild abrasive. It will remove minor scuff marks from the paint job of your car. Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste into a soft cloth and rub it on the scuff mark to remove it.

What Are the Different Types of Vehicle Scratches?

The different types of vehicle scratches include clear-coat scratches, primer scratches, and paint scratches. It is easy to learn how to get rid of them, but the common factor is that they are deep marks that go below the paint coat.

Key Properties of Scratches

It’s best to hire a professional to remove scratches from your car because it’s not about wiping the surface but removing the surrounding coat. The coat on a car is very thick too. In some cases, scratches can go through the paint job. When this happens, you should go to a professional.

But, if your car gets scratched and you don’t see the metal of your car showing through the scratch, it’s not so deep and you can get rid of it by yourself. When looking at the types of scratches, you can classify them based on the degrees of severity.

Read the classifications below:

  • Light scratches can be easily removed with a light polish. These small scratches are caused by wrong washing and drying techniques.
  • Moderate scratches would require a more aggressive compounding liquid, maybe if a vehicle scratched your hood or you brushed against a tree branch.
  • Severe scratches need you to repaint the panel on your vehicle as they cannot be repaired. Deep scratches fully go through the coat, so you can’t remove them.It’s important to check the depth of the scratch in order to fix the problem. There are different types of scratches, which include a clear coat scratch, primer level scratch and deep paint scratch.
  • Clear-coat scratch: There is a thin layer of paint coat on a car called the clear coat, and this protects the car from getting damaged by sunlight, dust, or acid rain. If the scratch is on the coat alone, it is really easy to remove it.
  • Primer scratch: Another layer of protection that is added to your paint is a primer, which is meant to give it a shiny and smooth surface. If the scratch goes through the coat and hits the primer, you might notice a sign of rusting on the car’s body. It’s best to repair the problem on time if you don’t want the rust to spread. You might have to paint the entire part again after fixing it.
  • Paint scratch: If the scratch is highly severe, it will go through the paint completely. If you get into a major accident, car paint scratches can happen.

– Eliminating Car Scratches

Follow these steps to eliminate scratches, but you can only do these if it’s a light scratch that only went through the clear coat.

  1. Clean the area with a microfiber towel and car wash cleaner
  2. Take fine sandpaper with a grit level from 2000 to 3000 and dampen it to wipe down around the scratch. As you gently wipe the scratch, use plenty of water to wash it. This would get rid of the coat and give you access to the paint.
  3. Be careful of removing the paint with sandpaper, which is why you should be gentle.
  4. Now, you can spread the remaining paint and get rid of the scratch with a rubbing compound or any other product for scratch removers. Start gently and get more intensive if you need to, but keep in mind that removing the paint will require you to get a thorough repair.
  5. Use a hand buffer or power buffer to level out the surface so that any dullness caused by the sandpaper will disappear.
  6. Use a sealant or car wax to reapply the coat and strengthen the surface or take it through car detailing.

– Other Ways To Get Rid of Scratches

Here are some common ways to remove a scratch from your car:

  • Car Scratch Remove Kit
    Most driers use scratch removers for their car care. It can be used to remove mild scratches because it comes with a car scratch remover solution and a buffing pad. First, the surface should be washed so that there is no debris or dust stuck on the surface.
    Then, it is dried with a microfiber cloth before you use the buffing pad to apply a small amount of the car scratch remover solution to the surface. Wipe off the excess from the surface when you’re done. It only provides good results for mild scratches.
  • Rubbing Compound:
    Another solution for a light scratch on your car is a rubbing compound. You will wash the affected area with soapy water first and then use a microfiber cloth to clean it. Next, apply only a small amount of rubbing compound with a buffing pad.
    You need to rub the compound aggressively on the scratched area in a circular motion to remove the scratched coat. Do this repeatedly until you can’t see the scratch, then wash the area and leave it to air dry.
  • Get Professional Work:
    If you’re unsure of what to do when you have a scratch on your car, it’s best to hire a professional denting painting expert. The bodywork experts will remove the car’s paint around the scratch area, get rid of the scratch, and level the paint.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Can You Paint Over a Scratch in Your Car?

Yes, you can paint over a scratch in your car if it is not deep and severe. You can fill the mark with paint by using a toothpick or pointed needle. Avoid using a spray bottle or brush because it can worsen the scratch. Also, check the paint code of your car before choosing the color.

– Do Scratch Repair Kits for Cars Actually Work?

Yes, scratch repair kits for cars actually work, but only when there is a minor scratch. If the paint coating is damaged, you can use the repair kit to fill the gap, and it will look like there was no damage at all.

However, for a major scratch, it won’t work and you have to consider alternatives.

– Can Vaseline Get Rid of Scratches on a Car?

Yes, Vaseline can get rid of scratches on a car if it is only a minor surface scratch. You can try using petroleum jelly by applying it with a cotton swab and rubbing it into a scratch. But before doing this, you should clean the damaged area with soapy water.


Now that you know the difference between scuffs vs scratches on a car, you can easily fix the problem when it comes up.

Here’s a very quick rundown of what we covered in this article:

  • Scuffs are superficial marks that are caused by the transfer of paint from one surface to your car.
  • Scratches are deep marks that usually go below the clear coat and can cause rusting.
  • You can get rid of scuffs with an adhesive remover or a solvent compound.
  • Scratches can be removed with a scratch removal kit or rubbing compound.
  • It’s best to hire a professional to get rid of scratches on your car.

With our complete guide, you can clean scuffs and scratches from your car. It’s best to differentiate them first, so check thoroughly before you start repairing them.

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